Reducing the number of Indigenous children in care
The Government of Canada has co-developed, with Indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, new legislation to reduce the number of Indigenous children and youth in care and improve child and family services.
The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families came into force on January 1, 2020.
On July 7 the Assembly of First Nations and Government of Canada signed a protocol co-developed by both organizations to establish a new structure to support discussions on the implementation of the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
Protocol regarding An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families in relation to the Assembly of First Nations
About the act
Co-developed with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners, the act:
- affirms the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services
- establishes national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality
- contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- provides an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to choose their own solutions for their children and families
On June 21, 2019, the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families became an official law, and on January 1, 2020, its provisions came into force.
What will happen on January 1, 2020
Indigenous groups who wish to do so can design and deliver child and family services solutions that best suit their needs. Just as the act was co-developed with our partners, we will continue to work with them through the transition and implementation phases of the act.
As of January 1, 2020:
- Indigenous groups who have developed their own legislation will have 2 options to exercise jurisdiction under the act.
- Every service provider delivering child and family services to Indigenous children and families will need to follow the minimum standards found in the act.
- Existing agencies will continue to provide services to Indigenous children.
- Agreements related to existing delegated agencies will remain valid unless the parties decide otherwise.
- If Indigenous groups are currently at discussion tables to conclude agreements, they can still exercise jurisdiction under the framework of the act.
- Indigenous groups that choose to exercise their jurisdiction could continue working with delegated agencies or could create their own delivery service models.
- The act provides that agreements such as treaties and self-government agreements in relation to child and family services between Indigenous groups and federal, provincial, or territorial governments that predate the coming-into-force of the act prevail in case of conflict.
- To facilitate the work of those providing child and family services, information will be posted on the Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) website related to notices of intent, coordination agreements and Indigenous laws as they are made available: Notices and requests related to An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
ISC will continue to work with Indigenous groups who wish to exercise their jurisdiction as they decide which option they prefer to use.
To access a list of service providers consult the First Nations Child and Family Services interactive map.
Co-development of federal legislation on Indigenous child and family services
During the summer and fall of 2018, the Government of Canada engaged with national, regional and community organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis as well as Treaty Nations, self-governing First Nations and Inuit, provinces and territories, experts and people with lived experience, including Elders, youth and women. 65 engagement sessions were held across the country, with nearly 2,000 participants. These sessions were part of the co-development of legislation that contributes to comprehensive reform of Indigenous child and family services.
Indigenous children in foster care
In Canada, 52.2% of children in foster care are Indigenous, but account for only 7.7% of the child population according to Census 2016. This means 14,970 out of 28,665 foster children in private homes under the age of 15 are Indigenous.
Results from the 2011 National Household Survey also show that 38% of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty, compared to 7% for non-Indigenous children.
- An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families
- Bill C-92: An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families receives Royal Assent
- Indigenous Services Canada key priority: Children and families together
- First Nation Child and Family Services Program
- Progress on six points of action
- A report on children and families together: An emergency meeting on Indigenous child and family service
- Improving child and family services in First Nations communities: Engagement
- Delivering on Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action: Child welfare